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Knitwear is the New Sport Shirt

Step outside the sport shirt box

If a button-up sport shirt is your default choice for everything from business meetings to nights out, you aren’t alone. It’s easy, it’s a little dressy but not too dressy, and it lets you show off a bit of personality.

We’re not ready to kick the sport shirt to the curb quite yet, but a wardrobe full of sport shirts alone is a bore. It’s time to diversify, and we’ll tell you how.

The New Rules of Smart Dressing

Steven wearing knit john smedley t-shirt and luigi bianchi sport jacket

Business casual, smart casual, “going out.” The default dress code for men almost always includes a sport shirt. Don’t get us wrong--a sport shirt certainly has its place in your wardrobe, but it doesn’t have to be your only option when it comes to looking sharp. 

Fresh summer knitwear is a more fashion-forward approach to business casual, and a less predictable approach to the “going out” button-up shirt.

Knit crewnecks and polos can be worn on their own for warm summer evenings, or under a sport jacket with jeans for casual Friday. The right polo even looks sharp under a suit. Add some summer knitwear to your wardrobe, and we promise you won’t regret it. 

Tip: When wearing a knit top by itself without a sport jacket, opt for a more relaxed fit for a carefree look.

A Knit Polo is your wardrobe’s MVP

Knit polo with grey check suit and black briefcase

Few things are as effortlessly chic as a quality knit polo. It’s easygoing but also easy to dress up. A good polo should be made of linen, silk, fine wool, or cotton and will incorporate details like banding along the sleeve cuff and the bottom to ensure a clean, trim fit.

Save the golf polo for the course

Not all polos are created equal. If you got your shirt from a sporting goods store, reserve it for sports. Golf polos are often made of synthetic “performance” materials, which are less comfortable for daily wear and can cling awkwardly.

A knit polo with a banded waistband/sleeve cuff and a more substantial collar creates a cleaner, dressier silhouette.

A Knit Crewneck Pulls Double Duty

Knit zegna crewneck sweater under navy jersey blazer with grey trousers and brown dress shoes

A knit crewneck tee or sweater is polished enough that it can easily be worn with a sport jacket and trousers. You can also take the relaxed route and wear a knit t-shirt with jeans and sleek sneakers. Look for a neckline isn’t too high or low, and choose high quality, breathable fabric like Sea Island Cotton or a cashmere/silk blend.

Pay attention to the details

T-shirt details

Your basic cotton t-shirts should be reserved as an undershirt or for weekend errands. Knit t-shirts have refined details, like a woven collar and banded sleeves. It’s a single finished piece, unlike a basic T-shirt where the neck is sewn on separately. 

Nail the knitwear fit

  • The length of a knit tee or polo should hit right below your belt line. 
  • The sleeve should hit around mid-bicep and should hug your arm without being too tight. 
  • The body should be slim, but it shouldn’t feel restrictive. A bit of room is a better look than a shirt that’s too tight, so when size up when in doubt.

Ready to step up your smart style? Check out our sweaters and polos and tees online. 


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